One of the most important membership benefits of the Maine Farm Bureau is one that is sometimes forgotten. Maine Farm Bureau is a voice for Maine agriculture. A major purpose of the organization is to advocate for issues important to farmers and rural landowners. Maine Farm Bureau was formed to analyze problems and implement solutions and to speak for farmers on issues important to Maine’s rural families and for those who want to support the Maine agricultural economy. Much of this work is done through participation at public events or by working with the press or through social media. But a majority of the work is done at the Maine Legislature.
The process of reviewing bills, determining a position and monitoring the progress of these bills is one that carries through the entire legislative session each year. During the legislative session, Farm Bureau reviews every single bill that goes through the Legislature. Often this involves sorting through as many as 2,000 bills and amendments during a legislative session, From these it is determined which bills may have an impact on some aspect of agriculture. forestry, fisheries and wildlife or rural Maine issues. These bills are brought to the Maine Farm Bureau State Legislative and Forestry Committee.
The Maine Farm Bureau Legislative and Forestry Committee is one vehicle through which farmers’ issues are translated into action. This committee is actually two committees meeting jointly several times a year during the legislative session to review proposed bills which may affect farmers, and to take positions on those bills where warranted. Committee members are often chairs of Legislative or Forestry Committees in their home county Farm Bureau organizations, assuring a broad representation of Farm Bureau members from across the state.
When deciding whether to support or oppose legislation, the Committee is guided by resolutions which originate at the grassroots level in local Farm Bureau county annual meetings, and which are subsequently passed by voting delegates at state Farm Bureau annual meetings. All positions taken on bills must be consistent with these state resolutions or long-standing Farm Bureau policy. Actions by the Committee on bills are subsequently reviewed by the State Board of Directors to assure consensus, and then the Farm Bureau position on each bill is presented in oral or written testimony by Maine Farm Bureau’s staff or by individual farmers on behalf of Maine Farm Bureau. Our testimony is generally very highly regarded by legislators who recognize Maine Farm Bureau as a major voice for the Maine farming community.
The Maine Farm Bureau Legislative and Forestry Committee also invites individual legislators and members of the Executive Branch of Maine state government to our meetings to help establish and maintain a personal working relationship with government decision-makers, and to directly express Farm Bureau positions or concerns on issues important to Maine agriculture. Truly, the Farm Bureau Legislative and Forestry Committee exists to assure that the voice and concerns of the individual Maine farmer are heard loudly and clearly by the decision-makers in Augusta.
If you have an issue that you would like to see addressed, or if there is a bill you would like to know more about, contact Maine Farm Bureau at (207) 622-4111. Or see your county page for a list of legislators in your area.